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Disease Overview

The vertebrae of the backbone or spine are cushioned by intervertebral discs that act as shock-absorbers and allow frictionless movement of your back. Disc degeneration reduces the height of the disc and may cause a herniated disc. It is made up of a soft gel-like center called the nucleus pulposus that is surrounded by a tough outer ring called the annulus fibrosus. A herniated disc is a condition in which the nucleus pulposus bulges out through the damaged or broken annulus fibrosus. Herniated disc is also called bulging disc, ruptured disc or slipped disc. Disc herniation causes compression of the spinal cord and/or spinal nerves. Spinal cord compression can cause pain in the arm and legs. In rare cases, it can lead to permanent damage and even paralysis.

What is Disc Arthroplasty?

Disc arthroplasty or artificial disc replacement is a spine surgery to replace a degenerated (deteriorated) disc with an artificial disc. The artificial disc is used to replace the degenerated disc to support the vertebrae while still allowing backward and forward bending, side-to-side bending, and turning.

How is Disc Arthroplasty Performed?

This procedure is performed under general anesthesia. For the procedure, the surgeon makes an incision over the area to be treated. The affected disc is identified with the help of imaging studies and removed. The artificial disc is then placed precisely in the disc space between the vertebrae. After confirming the proper fit of the artificial disc, the incision is sutured closed. 

Risks and Complications of Disc Arthroplasty

As with any surgery, disc arthroplasty may be associated with certain complications which includes:

  • Injury to the major blood vessels
  • Injury to the small or large intestines
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Bleeding
  • Spinal fluid leakage
  • Nerve injury leading to numbness and weakness

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